Thailand Ordeal Recalls Harrowing 1983 Cave Rescue In Rockcastle Co.

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 17:36:20-04

ROCKCASTLE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The harrowing cave rescue effort in Thailand has some people in Rockcastle County recalling a dire situation there more than 30 years ago.

Eight hikers were stranded in a cave, trapped by high water for three days in April 1983.

For more than 48 hours, rescuers from all over Kentucky worked around the clock to try and find a way to free the group of explorers from Ohio.

This was a search and rescue operation that captured the attention of not only Kentucky but the entire country, including a then fledgling cable network: CNN.

Bryan Bussell was the deputy chief of the Brodhead Fire Department in 1983.

He says the group of eight spelunkers went to a cave they had explored before, but the water level rose and trapped them.

Fortunately, the rain stopped and crews were able to pump enough water out of the cave to allow all eight to emerge safely.

Bussell recall those three days vividly and said his heart goes out to the trapped soccer team in Thailand.

"I can’t imagine what the families and those boys themselves are going through, and they’ve been in there going on two weeks,:" he said. "I just can’t fathom it."

Not long after the group from Ohio was rescued, the cave was shut down.

View coverage from the 1983 rescue below: